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9 infamous celebrity drug busts (or, cautionary tales for Justin Bieber)

Before Bieber's tour bus, there were other incidents of the rich and famous getting caught with drugs

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ROBERT MITCHUM Affectionately referred to as “Hollywood’s First Stoner,” Mitchum was already an established film actor–and Oscar-nominee–when he was arrested for smoking “reefer” at the home of B actress Lila Leeds in August, 1948. An L.A. judge handed Mitchum two years, of which he ended up spending 60 days behind bars. Upon release, he simply picked up his acting career where he left off.

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MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY Several years after his breakout role as a good ol’ boy stoner in Dazed and Confused, Matthew McConaughey was still doing research for the role. On October, 1999, police were called to his home in Austin to investigate loud music playing. The cops found McConaughey playing the bongos and dancing nude. They also found a small amount of marijuana, which lead to charges of possession. The drug charges were eventually dropped and McConaughey paid a $50 fine for violating Austin’s noise ordinance.

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LINDSAY LOHAN The summer of 2007 was most unkind to the erratic Ms. Lohan. Following marathon AA counseling and two stints in rehab, she was arrested by L.A. police for DUI and possession of cocaine (and for driving with a suspended license). She posted the $25,000 bail and headed straight for a third stay in rehab, which lasted three months. She eventually received one day imprisonment and 10 days community service, along with three years probation.

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COURTNEY LOVE Hell hath no fury like a dead rock icon’s widow on drugs. On October 2, 2003, the ex-wife of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain was held and then released by the LAPD for trying to break into the home of a male friend. A few hours later, Love was rushed to the hospital for what appeared to be an overdose of painkillers. Cops charged her with unlawful possession of hydrocodone and oxycodone, but she avoided jail by cutting a deal and entering an 18-month stretch of court-ordered rehab.

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NICOLE RICHIE Two high-profile drug busts seemed to sober up Paris Hilton’s party pal, now the mother of two young kids and holding forth on the reality series Fashion Star. In early 2003, Richie was arrested in Malibu for driving with a suspended license and possession of heroin, a felony. She beat the charges but three years later, in December, 2011, she was arrested again for driving her Mercedes the wrong way on an L.A. freeway exit ramp and failing the subsequent sobriety test. Richie admitted to being under the influence of Vicodin and marijuana, but told cops she was only taking them to curb bad menstrual cramps. What a girl!

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MISCHA BARTON Fleetingly famous for starring on the Fox primetime soap The O.C., Barton was arrested on December 27, 2007, when L.A. cops noticed her straddling two lanes and failing to signal a turn. Along with drunk driving and driving without a valid license, she was charged with possession of marijuana. Barton spend several hours in jail before being released on $10,000 bail and later received three years of unsupervised probation, a three-month alcohol education class and a $2000. Oh, and she hasn’t worked since.

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BRUNO MARS The diminutive Hawaiian singer built his entire musical career emulating Michael Jackson, but the King of Pop was never pinched for coke possession. Little Bruno’s troubles began when a bathroom attendant at the Hard Rock Café in Las Vegas called police to report someone “drug dabbling” in one of the washroom cubicles. Cops came and arrested him for having nearly three grams of cocaine in a bag on his person. Mars swore to the officers, and everyone else, that it was his first time ever doing drugs, and he only had the coke because he was already drunk. He pled guilty and received a $2000 fine, 200 hours of community service and the promise of the bust erased if he stayed out of trouble for a year (hey, what happens in Vegas, right?). Weirdly, he looks happy as a Grammy winner in his mugshot.


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TATUM O’NEAL Sure, any arrest for drugs is embarrassing, but when it happens to a former Oscar-winning actress, who’s 44 and the mother of three, it’s downright humiliating. On June 1, 2008, O’Neal, an Oscar-winner for the 1973 film Paper Moon (she was 10 at the time), attempted to buy crack cocaine near her Manhattan apartment building. The dealer was an undercover cop, however, and they also found two more bags of drugs and a crack pipe in her possession. O’Neal, who has a decades-long record of drug troubles, told arresting officers that she was doing research for a role. She plead guilty to disorderly conduct and got off easy by spending two half-day sessions in a drug-treatment program.


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ROBERT DOWNEY JR. Mercy, he’s had brushes with drugs and the law. The rapsheet: June, 1996, drunk driving, heroin possession and carrying an unloaded .357 Magnum handgun (three years probation); July, 1996, trespassing charge for breaking into a friend’s house and passing out in a child’s bed; July, 1996, arrested for walking out of drug treatment program; December, 1997, skipped mandatory drug test (four months in L.A. County jail); March, 1999, violated his parole (sentenced to three years, served one); November, 2000, arrested in Palm Springs for possession of cocaine and Valium (one-year rehab, three years probation); April, 2001, arrested in an L.A. alley for being under influence of a controlled substance (three years rehab). Now clean and sober, he’s Iron Man!

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